Monday, March 30

#13 - hypermemory

A group of brilliant surgeons have pioneered a new operation and are looking for volunteers. Their research was initally focused on developing a treatment for those with Alzheimer's Disease. Though their findings have met with limited success thus far, they believe that applied to a non-Alzheimer's subject, their procedure might very well result in what they term "hypermemory".

In short, if you signed up, went under the knife, and the operation were fully successful, you would emerge with a memory that was beyond photographic (if such a thing is possible). From that point forward, you would have the ability to recall basically anything you came across in your day to day life. In fact, you would largely lose the ability to forget.

You would not be compensated in any other way for volunteering, the potential for hypermemory is the only benefit to you in this scenario. Also of note, the doctors see zero risk of side effects if the operation fails, and the scientific community at large asserts this claim. If the procedure does not succeed, you will be no worse off than you are today.

Do you volunteer for this operation?

Monday, March 23

#12 - fashion

You receive an invitation in the mail to appear before (what the letter describes as) an "expert panel". The invitation does not go into very much detail, but your curiosity piqued, you arrive at the appointed building downtown at the appointed time on the appointed afternoon.

After spending a few minutes in a waiting room, you are escorted by a striking receptionist to a mostly dark room. Five older individuals, smartly clad in all black, sit in a set of identical chairs that are lit from above. They strike you as a stern, imposing bunch, though they exchange glances with one another that indicate that they are not totally without a sense of humor.

After listening to some introductory statements from these individuals, it becomes clear that they are the real-life fashion police. The group functions similarly to the Supreme Court, members being replaced as they choose to resign. Their decisions have directly and indirectly shaped the industry for decades and they exert significant influence on what is considered stylish.

After the introductions, the panel reveals why they brought you here. They are looking to bring back a specific fashion trend from a past decade, but have been unable to reach a consensus. As they are currently deadlocked amongst themselves, they have agreed to entertain suggestions from those outside their number, outside the entire fashion industry in fact. You are at this meeting representing John Q. Public, though you are asked to respond for yourself, based on your own personal likes and dislikes.

So their question is, if you could reinstate a single fashion trend from sometime in the 20th century, what would it be?

Sunday, March 15

#11 - at your service

A new game show called Maid, Tailor, Chef? has taken the UK by storm. It is a combination trivia/relay race contest between four contestants, each episode culminating in the winning contestant choosing between the services of a maid, tailor, or chef. Due to its success, one of the US networks is planning on launching an American version this upcoming fall.

This is where you come in. You have been selected to participate in a focus group for the US creation of the game show, the prize packages in particular. The network is curious to see whether or not there are any cultural differences in the perceived worth of the three prize categories. Your participation in this marketing exercise was predicated by your never having seen the original British show and having no awareness of the specifics of the existing prizes.

Here is how the winning contestant's choice will be defined:

The maid, if chosen, would clean your living space twice a month for a year, leaving it spotless, and would also provide guidance on how to better organize your rooms. The maid would give this advice and help with its implementation, but only if asked.

The tailor would design and create clothing especially for you. In the course of the year, you would be able to request up to "X" tops (shirts, sweaters, jackets, etc) and "Y" bottoms (pants, skirts, etc) for the tailor to make. You would only be responsible for paying for the material. The tailor would also dispense advice and would work with you on the garment design, but would not do anything without your approval.

The chef would cook and prepare your meals, "Z" meals a week for the next year. Dinner parties would be fair game, though under the "chef" option you would be responsible for the cost of any ingredients. As with the other choices, the chef could function autonomously, but would follow your suggestions (if provided) and would confer with you before finalizing any menus. You would also be allowed to participate in as little or as much meal preparation as you desired, with the chef noting helpful cooking tips.

It should be noted that the tailors and chefs that will represent the network are very skilled and would be able to work within a wide range of budgets. These individuals will not live at one's residence, but their contact information will be provided for the purposes of scheduling.

You task is to define the variables X, Y, and Z such that you would be equally likely to choose any one of the three options. So for example, if you are predisposed towards choosing to have a chef, your value for Z would be low because the chef would only have to prepare a small amount of meals for that selection to viably compete (in your eyes) with the maid's bimonthly cleanings.

The network's feedback sheet includes blanks for you to fill in X, Y, and Z, and ample space for comments. How do you answer?

Sunday, March 8

#10 - bionic gadgetry

A recent accident has left all of the fingers on your favored hand mangled beyond repair. A few attempts were made at fixing the damage, but at this point the only choice left is to amputate.

Fortunately, you are in the care of a gifted surgeon who, through recent technological advances, plans to give you bionic fingers that will interact seamlessly with the rest of your hand. However, during your consultations you are offered an even more intriguing proposal. If you wish, any or all of these five fingers can be outfitted with retractable gadgets or devices.

Though this strikes you as eerily similar to the concept behind Inspector Gadget, the surgeon assures you that the operation will be both safe and reversible. In other words, if you find the device-laden fingers to be more trouble than they are worth, you can have them replaced with the standard mechanical models. Furthermore, the advanced apparatus will not cost you anything extra. This doctor has been eager to test out the new technology and has been given a government grant to do so.

Still a bit skeptical, you inquire into the design of these proposed fingers. It seems that in general, they will appear as normal human fingers, or at least as normal as bionic fingers can be made to look. The device within each finger will be activated by a small toggle switch located on the corresponding knuckle (and can be retracted with the same switch). The design of the toggle is such that it would be difficult to trip accidentally. Any electronic devices would be powered by solar panels located just under the translucent surface of your bionic fingernails.

With this information, do you elect to have any of your fingers converted into retractable-gadget fingers? If so, what devices do you select?

Some things to consider:

1) This isn't magic. Whatever devices you choose would have to stand a reasonable chance at fitting within a finger-sized envelope (no butcher knives, in other words). Also, if you wanted any of your fingers to act as dispensers (PEZ, silly string, mustard), you would need to refill these digits from time to time.

2) You'll want to be specific in designating each gadget to a particular finger. If you wanted a safety razor in one finger so that you could shave, you'd have more control if it were installed in your index finger rather than your pinkie.

Sunday, March 1

#9 - the reality of jetpacks

It is 2010, and the dream of a safe, reliable, compact jetpack has finally become a reality. A small but capable overseas firm has developed and tested such a device and is set to begin marketing and selling the jetpacks in the U.S. and Europe for $650,000 USD.

Because of the inherent risks and challenges posed by the use of jetpacks as a form of transportation, it will be necessary for the U.S. government to regulate the burgeoning industry.

Though a relative unknown inside the beltway, because of your technical expertise, organizational skills, and imaginative approach to problem solving, the Obama administration has tabbed you to serve as the new "jetpack czar". It will be your responsibility to make recommendations as to the regulations that should be in place when the jetpacks are sold.

Will the jetpack become a fringe vehicle like the Segway, or will it see wider use? Will anyone with the cash be able to purchase and use the device? How will you address safety concerns? These are some of the questions you will need to answer. What are potential planks of your jetpack policy platform?